Volcano (1997) Poster

(1997)

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What America needs is a few good volcanic eruptions?
jpsaldibar19 August 2000
As a Big Budget movie, I'm sure that "Volcano" took more than a few months to make. Too bad someone associated with the movie didn't take that time to wander into the local library (the children's section, perhaps), and check out a book on "Volcanoes". I've seen Saturday-morning cartoons that have a better understanding of lava.

Instead we get many scenes of outright stupidity that would challenge even the densest of viewers. In one scene, Tommy Lee Jones and an assistant are standing near a volcanic vent, and their protective suits start to melt (of course skin is stronger than a protective suit, so they escape unharmed). But in numerous later scenes, people walk by lava like you might walk past a lake. Maybe this is because no one seems to know it's lava. I lost count of how many times a character said something like "What is that stuff?" or "There's something really hot and glowing coming down the street, and things are melting into it. Wonder what it could be?"

In what has to be one of the worst scenes ever filmed, two characters load an injured man onto the outstretched ladder of a hook & ladder truck. Then they hang onto a dangling fire hose as the ladder is lifted above the lava. The heat is so intense that the fire hose SPONTANEOUSLY COMBUSTS, but our characters are unhurt (their boots smoke a little). I didn't know that fire hoses were so flammable...

But "Volcano"is not just a dumb disaster flick with bad science. No! It's also a Socially-Important Commentary on our Society Movie! Throughout the film there are numerous "social messages". These are so corny and contrived that they could only have been written by people who have never actually experienced them. A racist cop tries to arrest a guy for assault (in the middle of a disaster scene!), but then the two team up to help save the day. Aww. Later, a little kid notes that "everybody looks the same" when covered by ash and soot. Aww. America's racial troubles could be ended, if only a giant volcano threatened us all.

More? Oh sure, there's more! Tommy Lee Jones is the too-hard-working dad who comes to value his daughter. Said daughter is a selfish brat who learns some responsibility, and respect for her dad. There's a guy whose only role in the movie is to say obviously insulting things. This makes him the "bad guy". One can see the writers of this movie hammering his role out: "We need someone who's rich and yuppie-like and snooty. Someone like us, only not as enlightened. Someone who wouldn't make a Socially-Important Commentary on our Society Movie like we are!" Of course, bad things happen to him and all is right with the world.

In the end, the mysterious, glowing, sometimes-hot substance we come to know as "lava" is channeled into the sea, and all of LA lives happily ever after in a just and fair world. A world, of course, with a big smoking volcano plopped down into the middle of it. Certainly that won't affect the real estate values?

The lessons of this movie are quite clear. 1) lava is harmless if you don't touch it; 2) small children will inevitably wander into incredible harm (but emerge OK), and 3) only through the trauma of sudden volcanic activity will we come to appreciate the true Brotherhood of Man.

Whoever thought up this movie should be thrown into a volcano...
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6/10
The script is the real natural disaster in "Volcano"
SwingBatta6 February 2002
Watching Mick Jackson's disaster flick, in which the eponymous natural disaster wreaks havoc throughout Los Angeles, is like watching a 3 a.m. infomercial. It's such silly, mindless fluff, yet there's just something about it that keeps your eyes glued to the screen.

"Volcano" is admittedly well-cast and acted, despite a dreadful script and a plot whose summary could fit on a matchbook. Tommy Lee Jones, who would give 110% making a McDonald's commercial, stars as Mike Roark, the hard-boiled head of the Office of Emergency Management, where he is assisted by his sidekick Emmit (Don Cheadle). After initially pooh-poohing the thought of a volcano in L.A. from geologist Amy Barnes (Anne Heche, who constantly ends her lines with a four-letter word like a period after a sentence), it's only a matter of time before he is proved wrong before his very eyes. Other solid performances come from Jacqueline Kim (Dr. Calder), John Carroll Lynch (Stan, the oft-maligned subway boss), and Keith David, a great actor who is otherwise wasted here in a role as a police lieutenant who has no impact on any events in the film, which is halfway over before he even appears on screen for the first time.

However, there's the small problem of having something resembling a good story to go with the awesome visuals, which are indeed spectacular. But forget the volcano; Jerome Armstrong's script poses the greatest threat to the characters. To put it mildly, it's the biggest piece of cliché-ridden muck to come along in awhile, laden with plot holes, smarmy sentimentality (the offender here being a dog rescue scene near the beginning) and heroics, forced we-are-all-brothers morals, and implausibilities. Yes, this film is rooted far from reality, but it should make a little sense along the way.

Working at the OEM must be the cushiest job in the world, for all the employees do throughout the picture is holler at each other and stare blankly at computer monitors. (And why do they continuously show news broadcasts on their big screen? Is that where their disaster briefings come from?) Mike's sullen daughter (Gaby Hoffmann, in a thankless role in the tradition of "True Lies" and "Face/Off"), due to her own incompetence, is suddenly thrust into peril and is thus separated from her father, a subplot that helps build up what turns out to be one great big joke of an ending. Describing it here can't do it justice. (After being taken to the hospital in Dr. Calder's Land Rover to receive treatment for a second-degree burn on her right leg, she is seen some time later with a bloody scab on her left cheek as she talks to Mike on the phone. And you thought your HMO was rough.) Plus, I seriously doubt that someone who jumps right into a pool of hot lava would slowly melt like a snowman in Miami while he screams and tosses the body of a man nearly twice his size to safety from a burning subway train. Then there's the wonderful family-oriented scene of two firemen burned alive in their overturned truck.

And, lest we forget that "Volcano" takes place in L.A., there's the obligatory racist-cop episode in which a black man asking the fire chief to help his neighborhood is suddenly handcuffed out of nowhere by an officer for "harassing" him, a tacky scene complete with (groan) references to Rodney King and Mark Fuhrman. (The whole time he's cuffed, the black man makes carefree wisecracks to the officers all while his 'hood is burning to cinders.) But, of course, everything's eventually resolved. "You're a good man," the other cop praises his partner after the latter grudgingly dispatches fire trucks to the black man's neighborhood, as if he has performed some immense display of generosity.

In another lovely homage to L.A., there's also a looting scene, where extras run incredibly slow while carrying empty boxes.

And what in the world was with the constant barrage of news reporters? Did we really need someone reporting "The house behind me has just exploded into flames...all hell is breaking loose!" while people were running for their lives all around her? As the volcano explodes out of the La Brea Tar Pits and lava is running onto the street, it's from a reporter describing this sight from where we hear one of the worst lines in the film: "It's as if the tar had caught fire, melted and somehow expanded." Hey, McFly, if tar is already a liquid to begin with, then how in the world can it melt?

When an army of helicopters drops gallons of water on the lava blocked off on Wilshire, the reporters and camera crews, who are camped right up against the concrete barriers, manage to stay conveniently dry the entire time.

Despite a high body count, scores of injured civilians and billions of dollars in damages, everybody's smiling as soon as a rainfall ensues, like those 7up commercials circa 1986. ("Feels so good comin' down!" Remember that?) Lots of questions are left unanswered: How will they clean up and repair everything? Will a future eruption occur soon? Will the Cubs win the World Series?

Yet for all its pretentiousness and gaping flaws, I have to admit that "Volcano" was entertaining. It's a load of escapist camp that doesn't have a care in the world. And I do have to give credit where it's due; somehow the filmmakers managed to keep slow-moving lava exciting for 104 minutes.

Plus, you can't help but get a kick out of a disaster film that includes the line "This city's finally paying for its arrogance," and finds the time to include a Bible quotation. 7/10
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1/10
I never knew watching volcano could be so boring
Simon-Rogopag3 January 2019
One of the most insufferably boring and humorless disaster films ever committed to celluloid. Makes admittedly mediocre and predictable rival volcano movie - Dante's Peak- look like a masterpiece. It's not even camp or scary and almost every actor is unbearably annoying (though the teenage daughter of the main character that behaves like a 6 year old takes the cake as one of the most annoying children in the history of film). At least in the 70s they used to have funny fashions, campy dialogues and all-star casts. One drank Ava Gardner is worth more than the entire cast and crew of this film combined.
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A pretty simplistic disaster movie with all the usual clichés but just enough stuff happening to make it passable entertainment
bob the moo29 October 2004
Despite a history of major geological events in the area, nobody really suspects anything when a handful of pipe engineers die from intense burns while underground. Investigating the accident, OEM chief Mike Roark almost gets killed himself when an underground fissure throws up intense heat and flame. Expert Dr Amy Barnes believes that magma may be coming up to the surface of the earth and causing the events but, would you believe it, nobody buys it. Nobody that is, until the tar pits overflow and start to pour lava onto the streets, destroying everything in its path. With Roark convinced and Barnes wishing she had been wrong, the race is on to protect the city.

Better known as 'that other volcano movie of 1997', this film gets out the disaster movie handbook and follows it step by step. So we have a manly and practical hero, an expert, children and pets in peril, human conflict, sacrifice, special effects, 'bad' politicians etc etc. So far so formula, and so it all continues. The basic set up does the usual things by setting up the most basic of characters for us to use as a focus before then just letting the lava go and relying on special effects to do the rest. The need to turn the drama into a specific story around Roark means that it occasionally forces him and his into unlikely dangerous positions that require them to be inches away from the action; this is not convincing and at times just feels like overkill, sucking any real tension out of the film.

Without much real excitement the film just piles on the special effects and, unfortunately, these look dated with some poor back projection failing to really cut the mustard.

The film soldiers on, unsure of how it can keep raising the stakes while remaining plausible (it doesn't!) and it will satisfy those just looking for a noisy disaster movie but no more than the clichés that those produce. The script has a few digs at LA (the news reporting, the pet obsession etc) but these don't amount to much but it works much better than the rather sickening attempts at racial commenting in the final few scenes ('everyone looks the same' – ugh!). The cast try hard to convince us that they are real people in real danger but even the talent involved cannot do much more than put on grim faces and soldier on. Jones is a good lead because he has a solid presence, but even he cannot make it exciting when he is placed within inches of anything falling/burning/exploding. Heche simply fits into the 'I hate it when I'm right' expert without really bringing more than competence to the role, while Hoffmann simply tries to find trouble to get into anytime the film dips. Cheadle is good support but minor subplots featuring the likes of David, Corbett and Rispoli only serve to highlight that the film cannot even manage to do the disaster movie stable of having each character have a background to make us care.

Overall this is an average disaster movie at best and, as such, will only really play well to those that like that sort of thing. The script is weak and cannot wait until the lava flows but even then struggles to make it exciting, throwing specific near misses at us again and again to keep us interesting. The cast have nothing to work with and make little impression but viewers may find this has just enough going for it to make it watchable if totally forgettable.
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3/10
Disappointing
FrenchEddieFelson10 June 2019
A blockbuster with a colossal budget of $90 million according to IMDb, but everything rhymes with cheapness: the dialog, the script, the plot twists, the soundtrack, ... It looks like a tv movie we may watch during a rainy Saturday afternoon, with a bad cold.
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Cheesy disaster mayhem should have been called "Lava"
Dr. Gore3 July 2003
Warning: Spoilers
*SPOILER ALERT* *SPOILER ALERT*

The most important thing to know about "Volcano" is that there is no Volcano. Lava bubbles up from the La Brea Tar Pits and sludges through L.A. So a more apt title would have been "Lava". Or perhaps "Lava Flow". Or how about "It's like Lava!". Where oh where did my Volcano go? Oh where, oh where can it be? It must be stuck in a different movie.

Anyway, "Volcano", (Lying title!), is a disaster flick. It's a very mainstream, cheese-o-rama, disaster flick. It's the kind of flick where people do noble things and your eyes are supposed to water up with emotion. Oh, they'll be watering up all right. You'll be laughing your head off so much that the tears will fall. One scene stands out: A guy tries to save the passengers on a subway train from the slowest moving lava in the world. So he jumps on board and starts taking people out. In his final act of selfless courage, he carries the last person out as he slowly melts into the lava! I don't know about you, but if lava was burning my legs to the bone, I think I'd be howling in agony. I sure wouldn't be able to keep a straight face like this guy, nor could I carry anything, let alone a person, to safety.

The whole movie is like that. It's about people caring about other people. A preposterous disaster will unite us at last! Sniff, sniff. A little girl at the end of the movie notices everybody covered in black soot and remarks that they all look the same. Can't you see the message? We're all the same! Humans must help other humans! Especially when Hollywood concocts an asinine disaster flick! Save me!
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7/10
A good 'just sit down and watch' film
horseygurlz25 June 2011
I'm not going to pretend that this movie is realistic. It isn't. But if you want to just sit down and watch a film with action, drama and entertaining characters, then this is the film for you.

Most disaster films are unrealistic, have no science behind them and if you think about them too much just get worse and worse. This movie is no exception. However, it is still a brilliant film if you want to sit down and not think too hard, or if you want to put a movie on without having to give it your full concentration. Personally, I think this film is great. There are better films out there, including better disaster films, but there are so many films that are ten times worse yet get better reviews. That's probably because they have better actors or are more realistic - but the job of a movie is to entertain, and this film does that brilliantly.
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1/10
Made me laugh a lot even though not a comedy
danielspink10 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Hahahahah Probably one of the funniest movies i've even seen. Obviously this isn't intentional though. It takes about half the movie for the main characters to realize what the big hilly thing is in the middle of the city is spewing hot red stuff, and the other half spent diverting the lave flow through the city using fire trucks (yer right). It certainly made me laugh. The acting makes Arnie look like a RSC thespian. It is amazing that films like this get commissioned. A more interesting version would be someone going near an active volcano and filming it, and would probably cost about £20 to make. ($40) I can see some guy pitching the film to a film company "well there's this big VOLCANO and it erupts in a CITY....pretty radical hey" If you can find it in the dollar bins, maybe worth buying as after watching this most other films would look good.
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3/10
Get me that lady geologist!!! (spoilers)
Captain Ed29 January 2003
Warning: Spoilers
'Volcano' is a B-movie at best, and at worst is more of a disaster that what it's supposed to be depicting. To be fair, you have to be prepared in any movie to suspend disbelief for one major concept. 'Volcano' asks you to suspend disbelief in science, human interaction, and common sense.

Tommy Lee Jones gets to be the studly-yet-1990s-sensitive head honcho of the Office of Emergency Management, and he's fine when he's not stuck with the stupid dialogue the script provides. However, Anne Heche gives a howlingly bad performance as a smart-ass geologist who becomes Roark's love interest (while the city is burning down, natch). Gaby Hoffman goes from Field of Dreams and American President to a turn as a whimpering, needy, and victim-for-life daughter of Jones. Don Cheadle gets to sit in a really coooool office and take Jones's phone calls, doing the job that in reality Roark would and should be doing.

Anyway, the movie really starts going downhill when Heche's geology partner gets sucked into a lava vent while they're breaking into the subway lines. It picks up speed when Jones starts suggesting that they use buses to dam the flow of the lava flowing down the street, Heche's geologist (who loves to lecture everyone about The Science Of Geology) being apparently oblivious to the fact that lava is hot and it melts metal, and rock, and a dead bus is unlikely to have much effect. It really starts to suck when the film introduces Rodney King-like racial tension between two bad actors dressed as cops and an angry black man who can't understand why the fire department is busy with this large river of flowing lava. But hey, in the end, the three of them will be working together to build a K-rail dam to stop the lava from eating up his neighborhood, even though the dam is built in the wrong direction and the material used wouldn't stop lava anyway. Besides, K-rails are hardly watertight, but I guess lava wouldn't think to poke its head through the gaps, not when Tommy Lee Jones is glaring at it. Don't even get me started on the stranded-subway-car subplot, where a tunnelful of hot lava is coming down but oddly enough, it's not too hot to attempt a rescue, it's not too smoky to see, and there aren't any poisonous gases so everyone can breathe. This must be LA Lava, or Lava Lite. You know, it eats cars but is eco-friendly.

There are moments of sheer camp here that almost make you wonder if this was meant to be a comedy. For instance, the two security guards packing up Hieronymus Bosch paintings have a completely meaningless and farcical conversation about weight, and at the end, no sooner does the little boy Roark/Jones rescued note that everyone looks the same while covered in ash, than a rainstorm breaks out and cleans everyone up -- and then the sun comes out and Heche says something along the lines of, "aw, shucks, Roark".

'Volcano' almost achieves Battlefield Earth status, but except for Heche no one approaches Travolta-like badness and the technical aspects are handled pretty well. If you are from the LA area as I am, it's kind of funny to think of a lava flow wiping out Wilshire Boulevard. I gave it a three for the effects and the little amount of tension you get from this.
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5/10
The Good & Bad Of 'Volcano'
ccthemovieman-110 September 2006
BAD NEWS - Unlikeable female lead in Anne Hesch, who had too foul a mouth for me. Other irritating characters with stupid dialog. A predictable ending with the needlessly drawn out save-the-daughter scene trying for maximum suspense.

GOOD NEWS - Some awesome disaster scenes. Hollywood's special-effects just keep getting more awesome as the years go on. A fast-moving story that was just about the right length. A likable lead character played by Tommy Lee Jones.

Overall, a movie that keeps your attention but doesn't get your respect with the dumb dialog.
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3/10
Have mercy...
themonfees21 May 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Although this movie (and I use the term loosely) was made in 1997, we just watched it tonight for the first time. My husband commented that a Tommy Lee Jones movie that we'd never heard of made him a little apprehensive. I blithely watched anyway, certain that if Jones was in the movie, it must at least be worth two hours of my time. After all, he has been one of our go-to actors for years. Although Heche isn't one of my favorite actresses, I was additionally reassured by seeing another well-known face. The list of accomplished actors/actresses continued to grow, so I endured more and more of this film, certain that if I pushed through enough clichés and trite social statements, I would arrive victorious on the other side of the plot. Alas, there was no plot. It appeared to be burned by the ever-oozing lava of doom.

The characters were paper-thin. The plot was so chock full of holes that it literally distracted me from most of the special effects and acting in the movie. Was the fee for a brief consultation with an elementary science teacher too much for this film's budget? No acid rain...no toxic gasses (like sulfur or hydrochloride)...no deadly ash...no skin-searing heat just a few feet from the lava. Wow...it's the world's friendliest lava ever!

The events were no better than the characters. Each incident was so contrived and far-fetched...it's like the writers said "Okay, we need to get rid of the little girl NOW"...and poof, she's splashed by a lava bomb which burns her enough that she has to be carried to safety (not from the lava, but from her own helpless stupor)...but just moments later in the car she is in no apparent pain and soon after is running effortlessly through the (groan!) building that (oh no!) is about to be blown up. After enduring all of this, your reward is the line from the little boy at the end (about all the people looking the same)...which has got to be one of the worst movie lines I have ever heard. Even if it wasn't so painfully scripted, it was ridiculous timing for all the characters involved. Kid and cop aside, as if the mother would still be in the area and just needs to be pointed out because she just isn't speaking up...what...she's hoping to slink off into the shadows and get away from the little brat once and for all? I don't think so. Obviously the child's mother would be missing or dead - or yelling her head off to find her toddler.

The token black gangsta tough hoodlum with a secret soft spot versus the chip on his shoulder narrow minded cracker cop with a secret soft spot scene made my eyes bleed. Even if such pat characters existed, they wouldn't behave as the movie portrays them given the circumstances. Something about imminent fiery death and massive destruction tends to catch people off-guard, ya know?

There are too many canned movie moments like these to mention...really, it's just an embarrassing movie to watch. Those poor writers...where are they now?
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Utterly boring
Vartiainen3 June 2015
The worst catastrophe movie I've seen in my life. And none of them have been what I would call good. But at least they have been exciting and/or visually pleasing. Volcano fails to be either of those. It seems to be a catastrophe movie without the budget or idea to make it exciting. Because the thing about lava is... it's slow. It's really slow. Like start walking and you're going to be okay slow. You starting to see the problem here?

So yeah, the movie of course tries to make its subject matter into this huge, intense battle against the forces of nature, but it just doesn't work. You don't buy it, because every single life that's threatened seems to be so because of sheer stupidity and/or carelessness. Which prevents the viewer from sympathizing.

Add in the fact that the script is lazily written, the dialogues are terrible and the acting is more wooden than the jungles of Amazon. Even Tommy Lee Jones is boring, because he's not even trying to act. He's simply Tommy Lee Jones trying to change the flow of lava. Riveting.

Not worth a watch, guys. If you want to see a good catastrophe movie... well, the term good is subjective within this particular genre, but at least most are better than this one.
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1/10
Terrible waste of time
formala4414 November 2008
Warning: Spoilers
The story of a Volcano erupting downtown L.A. sounds like a nice plot for a disaster movie. This one though, is missed bigtime. The movie looks chaotic, has a storyline which is hard to follow or believe and the acting was very bad.

Im in agreement with a lot of comments that Lee Jones is only good at bossing people around as a chief in some particular field. In this one, he is heading the emergency office. Being chief of such an office it naturally is a good idea to bring along your daughter to dangerous scenes. Clever thinking. Ann Heche touching walls and walking in tunnels that suppose to be 678 degrees fahrenheit. Yea right. Aside from the bad acting those factual errors make the film look almost as silly as Armageddon. The only good point of this movie is that there is no Ben Affleck to make matters even worse. Avoid this movie at all costs.
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2/10
This movie was such a disaster, you couldn't look away.
ganoe12 March 2005
This movie is a disaster within a disaster film. It is full of great action scenes, which are only meaningful if you throw away all sense of reality. Let's see, word to the wise, lava burns you; steam burns you. You can't stand next to lava. Diverting a minor lava flow is difficult, let alone a significant one. Scares me to think that some might actually believe what they saw in this movie.

Even worse is the significant amount of talent that went into making this film. I mean the acting is actually very good. The effects are above average. Hard to believe somebody read the scripts for this and allowed all this talent to be wasted. I guess my suggestion would be that if this movie is about to start on TV ... look away! It is like a train wreck: it is so awful that once you know what is coming, you just have to watch. Look away and spend your time on more meaningful content.
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1/10
sub parlava
haroldhecuba7 March 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Hadn't seen this in a long while,& remember having a good laugh then,but little else on so what the heck & it didn't take long for the chuckles to hit again.So lava isn't really that hot or toxic you can walk & breath right next to it.People,helicopters & all manner of vehicles are immune to the effects of volcanic ash.Thousands & thousands of tons of lava somehow obey traffic laws & only travel in one direction down one street & can be stopped by a few k rails & water.Electricity & mobile networks will still work after earthquakes & lava flows.Army & rescue personnel always carry enough explosives & pneumatic equipment to bring a 20 storey building down,perfectly at that.Where was the actual volcano?
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1/10
Not Even a Spark.
anaconda-406585 June 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Volcano (1997): Dir: Mick Jackson / Cast: Tommy Lee Jones, Anne Heche, Gaby Hoffmann, Don Cheadle, Keith David: Containing all of the suspense and excitement of a beer commercial, and about as much ambition as a bowel movement in the bathtub. It follows the formula closely with problem discovered by hero who goes unbelieved until disaster strikes etc, etc. Outcome is predictable and dumb as expected and directed with the same arrogance by Mick Jackson who also made The Bodyguard and L.A. Story. This would easily be the worst disaster film since Twister. Tommy Lee Jones and Anne Heche basically recite what every hero must go through when becoming involved in bid budget disaster crap. Heche in particularly has a lame scene where she runs about a crowded panic stricken street screaming someone's name, as if she actually believes that she will be heard. Gaby Hoffmann plays Jones's daughter who serves as little purpose as possible. Then there is Don Cheadle as that trouble maker with a last minute change of heart. David Keith also gives a wasted performance in a role that is about as broad as lava of the ass. There is also a total lack of plausibility such as making a horse shoe barricade that would hardly work since the lava can flow through the cracks. It is about as entertaining as plugging the toilet. That could be fun if the object used to plug it is this film. Score: 1 / 10
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2/10
Only the good pace saves this disaster.
morphricky6 July 2012
Warning: Spoilers
This movie has a lot of problems. Bad acting, boring characters, impossible situations and it's hard to take the movie seriously when the characters do so many stupid things.

A guy who melts from his feet up to his head without toppling over in the lava. Tommy Lee Jones and the woman's shoes are smoking from the heat of the lava beneath them, yet the shoes themselves seems to not remain hot after they are dropped on solid ground. Seismologists who thinks it's a brilliant idea to go alone at 4 AM to investigate a place where several workers have boiled to death from heat. One of said seismologists who thinks it's smart to sit right above a crack in the ground where the steam has come from. Blowing up a huge building in 20 minutes. Apparently blocks of concrete in shape of a horseshoe will stop the lava from flowing around the edges of it?

It's as if the movie expects me to be stupid enough to believe all of that works and it's quite creepy. In a sense, I have to become more dumb to enjoy the movie.

Kelly (Tommy Lee Jones characters daughter in the movie) is the reason why I lowered the stars from 3 to 2. Gaby Hoffmann is 15, but her character talks and behaves like she is 10. The character also appears extremely awkward, needing a babysitter and apparently doesn't have a single friend in this movie. She is clingy, spoiled and can't do anything without the input of others. Not even rescuing herself when lava is threatening to kill her. Nope, she stands there shouting for her father to run to the car, pick her up and he actually has to carry her all the way to a doctor because... well... would you expect her to be able to do it herself? Sure she had a small second degree burn on her thigh, but at the hospital, she walks perfectly fine and you even see her running less than an hour later.

I also found the movie stupid as it claimed several hundreds had died in this incident, yet it seemed you had to be a complete and utter moron to be able to die at all. Were those people really more stupid than Kelly? The only logical death in the movie was the firefighter trapped in the firetruck and one of the few characters I actually felt sorry for.

In conclusion, the movie is very stupid, but because it has a good pace and lots of things going at all times, there isn't a moment when you can take a nap since you'd miss out. It's too bad that all you get to see for more than half of the movie is stupidity.
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1/10
Campy but brought down by 1 performance
joeandthecat31 July 2016
2 words make this one of the worse movies I have ever seen: Gabby Hoffman. My god she was beyond annoying. One of the whiniest, wimpy, grating kid performances in history of movies. Take her away and this is a fun B movie that leaves you entertained for a bit. With Gabby this movie becomes grating. Best example is when she cannot run away from the lava that a baby could crawl away from. God I was hoping she would die in that scene. Didn't happen and her performance just got worse as the movie moved along. If you can tune her out the movie is fun. I just couldn't tune her out though and I could not enjoy the movie. So take away one performance and the movie is enjoyable. Leave that one performance in and the movie is terrible.
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complete and utter nonsense
Joolz27 December 1999
This film really is one of the most awful pieces of rubbish I have ever had the misfortune to sit through. The storyline itself is weak, the all-American back-slapping nonsense throughout left me feeling drained. Why? I laughed out loud at some of the ridiculous almost farcial plot situations...a volcano in LA?...hmmm. Every great actor has the right to make a turkey...Tommy boy, that was yours!
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4/10
Volcano made ash of itself, here.
ironhorse_iv18 July 2014
Warning: Spoilers
This movie was pretty lame. I didn't lava it. In 1997's, the United States was welcome that year with two big budget volcano films. One was Dante's Peak, the other is this mess of a movie. Directed by Mick Jackson, the movie had a lot of things going against it. One thing is the horrible acting. Tommy Lee Jones seem to forget what movie, he is in; because he's channeling his inner Samuel Gerard from 1993's Fugitive with this role. Tommy Lee Jones plays Mike Roark, head of the Los Angeles Emergency Management Center whom with Dr. Amy Barnes, a volcanologist (Anne Heche) discover an actual volcano ready to emerges from the La Brea Tar Pits and destroy Los Angeles. It's up to Mike and his management team, including his second-in-command Emit Reese (Don Cheadle), to save as much people as possible. Too bad for Los Angeles, they put a guy in change for Emergency needs that has no clue, how Volcanos and earthquakes work. That's really smart. Serious, how does this guy, not know what lava and manga is!? The ignorance of geography is just annoying. Are we supposed to believe no one in LA has a clue what a volcanic eruption or lava looks like? Sure, the first time people might do double-take. However it soon gets to the point where the film seems to be set in an alternate reality where the very existence of volcanoes is an obscure geological fact completely unfamiliar to the general public. It's an insult. For a city as large as Los Angeles, the fictional and totally ridiculous volcano erupting un-noticing erupting is just out of the world, unrealistic. How does this volcano get unnoticing for years from every scientist in the world, over the years? Yes, California is a geologically complex place with many centers of volcanic activity, but most of them aren't anywhere near the Los Angeles Basin. So maybe, scientist weren't looking for it, but still Los Angeles area has no volcanoes active or even recently extinct. The LA basin is also full of oil wells and tar pits. Petroleum deposits cannot form geologically in the presence of volcanic activity anywhere in the vicinity; you can't have oil, tar, and volcanoes in the same place, period. It's nearly impossible to have volcanos such as a Parícutin type there. It's like me, saying that the volcano on the moons are all activate, when there clearly dead. Another thing that bugs me about the movie is Anne Heche. I really don't buy her as a scientist. She has to be one of the worst actress that came out from the 1990s. The movie even has the nerves, to set up a love plot between the 28 year old, Anne Heche and the 51 year, Tommy Lee Jones. Really? Do you think, that's needed for this ridiculous movie!? They have little to no chemistry. If that doesn't get you turn off, the movie adds more sub-plots like a doctor, Jaye Calder (Jacqueline Kim) choosing her job over her jerk husband who wants to flee the city. Why on earth, did the man marry her, if he's against her helping people? I would thought, the word 'Doctor', who give him, some clues, what she does for a living. The movie even wants to deal with racism. If there wasn't enough sub-plots in the movie, alright. There is a few scenes where a black guy and racist cop are fighting while the eruption and lava flow are going on. Only to connect with each other, when the disaster threaten their neighborhoods. In a better movie and director, this would be great social commentary, but in this film, it's deliver in such a cheesy and offending way. Even the boy last line in the end of the movie, sounds tacky. Another bad character is, Roark's daughter, Kelly (Gaby Hoffmann) who tend to freeze up constantly, forcing people to save her. Her clueless way to save herself, cost the chance of her hero trying to save someone else's life. Does she felt any empathy about that? No! The worst instance being losing a kid she was put in charge of and when she finds him on an exploding street, decides to stay there and wait to be saved. Her behavior is justified mention by an easily missed conversation between her mother and father early in the movie, but gees... she so tiresomely getting saved all the time to the point, that I wanted her to die in the film. There is also a lot patting scenes with characters that have little to do with the main plot. While, I do like the character of Stan Olber (John Carroll Lynch) and his last scene was pretty damn epic. There is little reason, why the movie needed him, around. The visual effects were alright in the most part. Still, there couldn't get the science between the lava, right. I like how the heroes place concrete barriers in a cul-de-sac so when the lava reaches them it'll dam itself, but they face it in the wrong direction for the dam to work. In real life dams and bridges need to have the arc against the point with the most pressure. There are too many instances to count where individuals are standing directly on the other side of concrete barriers redirecting and holding back lava. Most of them, with the ash they breathed in would have turned the insides of their lungs into pavement and killed them well before the final act. The movie was composed by Alan Silvestri. Too bad, it's not that good. Overall: The ads say The Coast Is Toast, but to be truth, the movie is toast. It's painful to watch.
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1/10
So bad it's good but can I please get some wine with the Cheese
richard-blanchette-113 November 2005
OK I can buy Volcano in LA, why not California is on an active fault with plenty of geo thermal activity, I was born there I know, plenty of volcanic activity. LA doomed by a Volcano seems almost a fitting end. The last time I watched it I got out a bell to ring every time the cheese hit the fan. trouble was the neighbours thought a fire alarm had been going off for 90 minutes. Character assaults who do we blame the writer or director. First lets start with the spoilt idiot daughter, lava about 4000 degrees lands on a mini skirt and she gets lightly singed. The worst line TV or movie history ever "rock, paper, scissors, Lava - What beats Lava?" " My Dad"

The Doctor loves all humanity but her greedy land developer husband hates everyone. Why is this back story even in the movie. The city disaster worker chewing nicotine gum while wearing 6 nicotine patches but still craving just one sweet lung full of smoke. Dude if you love it that much why quit.

The train driver who is unaffected by heat so high it breaks glass and melts fibre glass. The the cheapest shot of all is the tug at our heart stings for the racial inequality for an inner city kid from a member of the LAPD. Why is this sub plot ever needed? It is so incredibly bad it is fun to watch if you make a game of spot the cheese. Break out the crackers open several bottles of wine invite some friends round and have a laugh. This movie would be great if they only got rid of the actors, Director and the writer. Tommy? what were you thinking man? From about a Nanon second into this insult to even the lowest intellect right through the ever predictable save the world end. Here is the sad thing I would sit through it again just to find new ways to be insulted. Worst movie ever made? Maybe I haven't seen Gili!
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4/10
Another superfluous disaster movie
The_Void25 August 2005
There's been a movie made about almost every other type of natural disaster, so why not volcano's? Actually, why not make two movies? This big budget trash went up against that other big budget trash, Dante's Peak, back in 1997; and even though this one obviously had more to work with; it still managed to come off even shorter than Pierce Brosnan's dreary vehicle. Featuring all manner of "great" special effects and autopilot performances from all concerned; Volcano subscribes to the classic 'disaster movie' profile, and shows this further by ensuring that the plot makes about as much sense as blowing up your house to keep it from being robbed. Tommy Lee Jones struts his stuff as some bloke who works for the government, and Anne Heche gets down and dirty as someone who knows about volcanoes. When a volcano erupts in Los Angeles (where'd that come from?), it's up to these two (and a load of firemen etc) to stop the lava in its tracks before Tommy Lee Jones' daughter is killed! Oh...and the rest of LA. The story is set up in the usual way; someone notices something, blah blah, he's ignored, blah blah, disaster happens, blah blah, the day is saved. Blah. Blah.

This film is completely pointless, and is obviously only there for entertainment value. Still, even as entertainment, this falls flat on it's face. Obviously, in a film like this; you've got to expect some over the top sequences and silly goings on (such as a sequence that sees a train worker save one of his friends...), but the film continually throws stupid ideas into the plot, and before long it just gets so silly that it's impossible to care about it. Quite how Tommy Lee Jones has managed to maintain a semi-respectable reputation after all these years is astounding. To me, his name has become synonymous with 'stupid load of rubbish'. He might have the ability to portray a rugged action character, but he's unbelievably corny and doesn't make a good lead. Anne Heche stars opposite him and just does what you'd expect the 'female with brains' to do. Don Cheadle, who met with high acclaim after his performance in the massively overrated Hotel Rwanda, gives a very mundane performance, but I'd still rather watch him than either of the two leads. On the whole, if you're going into this expecting some brainless fun; you'll be pleased to know that it is brainless, but unfortunately it's about as much fun as an actual volcanic eruption. Definitely NOT recommended.
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1/10
Volcano 1, viewers 0 ; A real bomb!
minnman15 July 2003
Warning: Spoilers
If there is ever another "50 Worst Movies" book "Volcano" would certainly be in the running. First of all, any elementary volcano fan would see all of the warning sign up to and including a near by pond boiling. "Gee whiz, that's a dead give away that something nasty is happening". But never fear, the dummies at the site - conveniently located by the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles - don't have a clue. There is, of course, the obligatory subway that somehow runs in the part of the volcano. Do you really think that those two female scientists have a clue when they go down to investigate? No! But of course one falls into a chasm and gets boiled alive. Then there is the subway train - RTA management refuses to believe that there is a problem. And, of course, there are people trapped on the car, which by the way, looks like a very cheap Lionel model.

Finally we have Tommy Lee Jones who was far more convincing in "The Fugitive" who somehow has the ability to direct the lava flowing down the street by blocking the flow with a bunch of old buses. I always knew that there would be a need for old buses! He finally comes up with a plan to divert the flow of the lava by building a trench and blowing up a building where - by the way - his daughter is somehow stuck in it with the owner who is a villian. Gosh, even Irwin Allen wouldn't stoop that low in his horror flicks. Of course she gets saved and the lava flows on to the sea thru the sewers thanks to Tommy Lee Jones. Gosh, what a hero!

In the end we have a panorama of beautiful downtown Los Angeles with the volcano - now called Mt. Wilshire - smoldering away on a large cinder cone. It just shows that in L.A. you can do anything so long as it is on film.

In this case it is a shame that the lava did not somehow flow in and destroy the studio where this bomb was made and hopefully destroy the film before it was foisted upon the public.

If there was a star system this would be "bomb".
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8/10
Ridiculous But Solid Entertainment nonetheless **** out of *****
Welshfilmfan30 November 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I have noticed from a lot of the other comments on here regarding this Movie is that a lot of reviewers here are bitching about the lack of scientific accuracy..... This is a Big-Budget Hollywood Movie for Christ sake, Get a life! you're NOT supposed to take this kind of stuff as fact... It's a 100 Minutes of Mindless escapism....Nothing More... Jeez!!!.....

While I would agree most/Nearly all of the situations which happen in 'Volcano' are highly unlikely such as trying to stop a flow of lava with a Bus, standing inches away from molten Lava and not feeling the heat... Unlikely of course but this is Hollywood.

Slight spoilers!

As for the Plot here goes..... Tommy Lee Jones Plays Mike Roark The Director of the Office of Emergency Manangement (Nice Title!) Anne Heche (What Happened to her?) Plays a Geologist (stretching credibility a bit too much there) called Amy Barnes who team up to stop a Volcano (Well Obviously!) From destroying Los Angeles....and that's pretty much it.,,,, and it's full to the brim of all the usual Disaster Movie clichés such as the guy who runs the Metro doesn't believe listen to Roark & Barnes' concerns....blah....blah.... ends up being a hero while melting to death in a pool of Lava.......Lost Blonde blue eyed boy.....Scared injured daughter...... The sexy Doctor's heartless Boyfriend.....all present and correct......

End of slight Spoilers!

Now 1997 was a big year for Volcanoes as Dante's Peak came out the same year as this and audiences seemingly wanted neither as both Films Flopped 'Volcano' took just HALF it's $90m Budget Stateside and barely broke even Worldwide while 'Dante's Peak' took $67m stateside against a $100 plus Budget, Personally though I prefer 'Volcano' as I can't stand Pierce Brosnan, although neither movie really deserved to bomb.

Take 'Volcano' for what it is a Big Budget Hollywood Special FX Extravaganza and don't try to think too much and moan about the inaccuracies and you WILL enjoy.... I did, as Hollywood Blockbusters go, this is one of the Best.

****/*****
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7/10
Good, but the Underdog Wins!
Elswet22 March 2007
I have to say this is a big blockbustery KABOOM popcorny effects extravaganza, with a solid story, and good performances. This (released in April of 1997) was 20th Century/Fox's answer to Universal's Dante's Peak (released in February of 1997), a superior movie in all ways except one...It doesn't have Tommy Lee Jones.

I have to say that Jones makes Volcano. Without him, this work would be nothing than an overblown, over-written piece of popcorn trash. As it is, this is a delightful "Mother Nature Gone Awry" flick, with totally kick butt effects.

I found it riveting, but liked Dante's Peak more.

It rates a 7.4/10 from...

the Fiend :.
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